Much talk has been made of the ‘Scottish roar’ in our general election. And many comentators eagerly talk of ‘Scottish differences’ compared our our English counterparts. But, despite the rise of the SNP, the facts are that Scots and English citizens aren’t all that different. And unionist Scots should resist the SNP conjouring trick, we shouldn’t buy into the separatist language of differences and division.
Nicola Sturgeon says that we’ll be having another separatist referendum if Scots and English vote differently on the European question. We won’t vote differently. And this isn’t bland assertion on my part, the polling evidence illustrates my case.
Scots are only marginally less eurosceptic than English. But make no mistake, we’re eurosceptic nonetheless. And it’s on these kinds of issues that we’d me making a mistake if we believed the SNP narrative of ‘Scottish difference’. On social attitudes, there are only marginal divergences between how us Scots see the ‘big issues’ as compared to our English brothers & sisters. On immigration policy, the differences are even more marginal than on the EU in/out question.
The opinion polls show, Scotland is united in wanting to stay in a reformed EU alongside England’s south west, London, North-West. Hardly a simple narrative of ‘Scotland vs England’. And the overall picture is tight, on a ‘knife edge’. Furthermore, a majority of Scots agree with England that we should have an in/out referendum.
Scots also care about ending Labour toxic legacy of uncontrolled immigration as much as English voters do.
Polling shows 57% of Scots think immigration should be reduced. It’s lower than the 75% in England, but a clear majority of Scots nonetheless agree with the majority of English.
What Scots; or the 50% of them at least; actually called for isn’t all that clear. And we shouldn’t just roll over and blindly accept the self-serving SNP narrative. What happened is multifacited. Maybe even confusing and contradictory. If you ask the 50% who voted for the eparatist party what they want change ‘from’ and ‘to’ I’ll bet you won’t get many clear answers. Never mind what the 50% of voters who didn’t vote SNP actually want either. None of this is remotely as clear as many would pretend.
But one thing is clear in all of this haze and mud, Scots don’t want separation and they don’t want to revisit the question again either.
Again, polling shows a majority of Scots may vote SNP, but they don’t want another separation referendum. Survation demonstrates this.
I’ll hazard some possible ideas on what motivated the swift collapse of Scottish Labour however. What we observed was the almightiest electoral kicking being dished out. For many in Scotland ‘Scottish Labour’ remains the ‘established party’ (or is that ‘establishment party’?). The SNP successfully ran a campaign painting themselves as the outsiders, the challengers to an out of touch and frankly exhausted Labour Party machine. They adopted positive language, platitudes one can’t possibly disagree with (but are really meaningless if you stop and think). They took votes from the left, the right and the centre. The SNP won in Scottish Tory heartlands in Perthshire, they crushed Labour in their heartlands of Glasgow and the west coast. They even smashed aside historical tradition and won in Liberal country.
Make no mistake then, this was an emotional thing. Give Labour a kicking for taking voters for granted. Give Westminster a boot for its lack of a radical enough response post indyref. And punish the Lib Dems for doing the decent thing. All wrapped up and inflamed by a rising petty nationalist mood.
The rise of the ’56’ was an emotional cry for ‘change’. But from what and to what remains unknown, unclear. And I doubt the SNPs 50% of voters really agree on a whole lot. Ask them what ‘full fiscal autonomy’ means for them, I doubt you’d get consistent answers.
So let’s be clear: in terms of social attitudes Scots are not so different from our English family. In wanting reforms to a failing UK constitutional status quo, we re equally not so different. Scotland is caught in a national mood. Emotions will pass, but only if change comes.
Holyrood 2016 will be the moment the tide will begin to drift out for the SNP. That campaign will see a much more defensive SNP. And an SNP who’ll have to both defend a government record, and abandon it’s pretense of being the ‘outsiders’. Simple fact is, the SNP are now the establishment. The public will rapidly appreciate this fact in a year time.